Thursday, September 07, 2006

Star of David = Terror Threat?

As of late, I've had to do a great deal of airplane travel. Generally I don't really like to travel and so I try to keep the number of trips that I take down to a minimum and when I do travel I generally don't stay more than a few days.

However, my last trip had me away from home over Shabbos, so I packed some candleholders for my trip. I didn't feel quite right about putting them in my checked luggage so I wrapped them carefully and put them in my backpack which I planned to carry on the plane.

With the new security measures at airports in place, before heading to the airport, I made sure that I had no type of liquid or gel in my backpack (frowning as I placed my anti-bacterial hand sanitizer into my checked-baggage). And off to the airport I went.

Before I go any further let me say that I totally realize that the TSA screeners at the airports are only doing their job which is basically to make airline travel safe. I am not one of those people standing in line complaining about the whole security procedure because I say if it takes 2 hours to get through and it means I am safe then take the 2 hours - I say take as much time as you need as long as I am safe!

So - I get in line and present my ID and boarding pass. Next I proceeded with the whole drill - take the laptop out of its case, take your shoes off, lay your backpack down flat on the belt, make sure you don't have any metal in your pockets, etc. Then I walked through the metal detector (trying to ignore the fact that I was walking barefoot where who knows how many people have walked barefoot before me) to the end of the conveyor belt to collect my belongings. And I look at the screener who is examining the x-ray of my backpack and he is repeatedly running my backpack out and back into the machine - glaring at me every now and then as the backpack goes in and out of the machine. He turns to the guy behind him and asks him to look at the screen and I hear the other guy saying, "That's the Star of David - those are candleholders." So, now I am expecting that he will just let my bag go and I can be on my way. But oh no that's not going to I hear, "Bag Check!"

So next I am escorted to another table (still barefoot) while trying to manage the laptop still out of it's case, the laptop case, my shoes, and my sweater (did I mention I was still barefoot?) - just totally vesheveled. And I got to watch as the TSA guy took every little thing out of my bag and pick and chose what he was really going to inspect. My candleholders were wrapped in a towel and placed inside a plastic bag - he never opened the plastic bag. He did open a medication bottle and looked inside. He paid no mind to my Machzor, my eyeglasses in an eyeglass case, my iPod in a zippered up case, nor the plastic bag containing my headcoverings. Eventually he was satisfied and I was left standing there trying to manage everything nice and neatly back into place as they had been originally. I do find all of this curious but still respect that this is all happening in order to keep air travel safe.

Fast forward a week and a half for my trip home and I find the same thing happening again. Only this time, I hear the woman at the x-ray machine saying, "Six pointed star! Bag check!" And I end up going through the whole routine again. The screener had just about finished and was stuffing things back into my bag but then he took out a tube of lipgloss (that apparently made it through the screener on my trip out there) and said, "You can't have this - it's gel based. But let's say that you put some on and let me see what flavour it is." (Oh yeah - that's appropriate you jerk. ) Rather than freak out I just replied, "I'm sorry - I had no idea it was there - just throw it out." And on my merry way I went.

I'm not bitter (really!) but can someone please tell me why the Star of David equals a terror threat and an automatic bag search?


PsychoToddler said...

Flying is such a pain in the neck now. These terrorists must be laughing their heads off. One security guard (who could barely speak English) asked me what was in my guitar case. I said, a guitar. He said it was too big to be a guitar. I offered to open it and let him see, but he put his hands up as if I were going to set off a bomb.

But you can't kid around with these guys or they really mess you up. When the 5th person asked me what was in there, I wanted to say a submachine gun, but I knew it would be a mistake.

orieyenta said...

And of course you are so threatening looking PT...not!